Retailers’ Actions Speak Louder than Words on Black Friday
November 25, 2014
November 25, 2014
Every year as we approach the holidays, the shopping frenzy seems to grow more and more out of control. Customers, demanding better deals and around the clock hours, seemingly force stores to open earlier and employees to work longer and longer. Or do they?
This year, stores such as Best Buy, J.C. Penney and Toys R Us will be opening at a record early 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day in an attempt to gain an edge over their online competitors, who have been dominating sales in recent years. And let’s not forget about RadioShack, a company recently on the verge of bankruptcy, which is opening at 8 a.m. Thanksgiving, only to close at noon and reopen at 5 p.m. (presumably allowing time for a quick turkey dinner, well maybe a sandwich at least).
And then there’s the champions of this dubious retail marathon. “We are a 24/7 hour operation,” a Walmart spokeswoman proudly announced, “We are open Thanksgiving Day and have been open Thanksgiving Day for 25 years.” Nearly one million employees of the country’s biggest retailer will work the holiday. Kmart stores, not to be outdone, will stay open for 42 hours straight, beginning at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving. Who is giving thanks for that? Certainly not the thousands of employees who will leave their families and face an onslaught of frenzied consumers.
Other retailers, such as Costco, T.J. Maxx and Barnes & Noble, are taking their own stand: vowing to stay closed on Thanksgiving, stating that this creates a better relationship with more motivated employees that will help revenue in the long run.
So how do these choices illustrate corporate values? Actions speak louder than words—especially on Black Friday.
It’s ironic – or perhaps hypocritical – for brands that attempt to connect with consumers who have families don’t extend those same values to their employees. (Many of these hourly workers have limited vacation and paid sick time.) Any successful CEO knows that people are your biggest asset.
I think Thanksgiving is the ideal time to illustrate those values by allowing and encouraging a company’s most valuable asset – its employees – to take the day off. In fact, at Solomon McCown, we have always also closed on the Friday after the holiday. It is an important statement of our values and our appreciation for our SM& team that works so hard every day. Here’s to a relaxing day or two. The stores will still be there on Saturday and I doubt they’ll have run out of merchandise.